The old joke “mandatory fun” is true 100%.
Why should anyone care to spend even more time in the same social setting after throwing the bulk of their week at it?
I mean, if you can’t be friends, nice, helpful, human, with the people that help you feed your children, during at least forty hours a week, how will a drunk night at some bogus retreat help?
Why do companies need invented problems. Beats me. Why would simulating a crisis, in a crappy group game, work better than learning from the shit that hit the fan last week, or the disaster we avoided last month?
Who benefits from all those weekend training sessions where some flaky communicators try to force a group to actually engage, and why is this any more useful than actually engaging in the real deal, you know, the effing work the team does for, well, at least forty hours a week?
It is so common to have a team building or office after party or whatnot that people have them just to have them. And the worst? These events are not either paid or required, but God forbid you skip them.
I was reading recently this well intended thing:
Don’t work for a startup if you want to keep the personal and professional completely separate. You can get away with it in corporate, keeping it “Strictly Professional.” But in startups, your team are the people you spend most of your waking hours with. Not only that, they’ve made you laugh, seen you cry, and supported you as you were challenged beyond what you thought were your limits. These people aren’t just co-workers; they’re your friends, and some of them, probably for life.
Excuse me? Why? Actually, what? In all that we humans call “work” your colleagues are the people you spend most of the waking hours with, that is not a startup thing, it is an “I am employed” thing. What if I already have some friends? Or what rule of living is that … oh, whatever.
It is simply a silly attempt to fix problems as kids, problems that should be fixed as grownups. If I can’t be friends and/or human with you while doing the work we’re supposed to do together, then it is clear that climbing plastic trees and joining a forced play pretend won’t work either.
I think that teams should be awarded with time together either by arranging fun during work time or by simply allowing people to figure out by themselves, if they want to, ways to engage outside of work, because they want to.
My 2 cents and my general attitude. I have been fired for not participating at team retreats in the past, I have had blue shirted managers, the kind schooled exclusively in management, look down upon me, with frowned eyes questioning my motives for missing out on all that fun, I still do it.
I think that if people do have a distinctly separate personal life outside of work, they should be encouraged to have it. I do encourage everyone to build their “personal and professional” as separate things. They will mix, but they must mix in your terms, not in the terms of some corporate philosophy.